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9 Extremely Useful and Free PHP Libraries

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A lot of functionality is shared among applications - like sending emails or preventing spam. In the spirit of reusing the wheel instead of reinventing it, here are nine free web libraries that you can use in your next program which will dramatically increase your efficiency.

1. ReCAPTCHA

The reCAPTCHA library allows you to integrate an advanced CAPTCHA system on your website, which helps keep spam bots from posting on your website. The visual CAPTCHA also includes a helpful audio feature.

In addition to the reCAPTCHA service, the library also includes an API for the "Mailhide" service which hides emails from spammers.

The API is free and easy to implement on your site and also gives back to the community as it translates scanned books.

ReCAPTCHA

Download ReCAPTCHA | Get an API Key | Documentation

2. Akismet

Akismet was covered in a previous NETTUTS article.

Akismet is a free service that can be used on most small sites - or used on larger sites for a small fee. The library works by comparing comments to a database of existing spam comments provided by other users. The library can then decide to flag the comment for moderation or allow it through. Everyday the library grows and the service improves.

Akismet

Implement Akismet

3. Services_JSON

JSON is a handy format for transmitting human readable data. Not everyone has made the move to PHP5 which has included JSON support since version 5.2.0. This small library enables you to implement JSON functionality into your own applications if you are not using a recent version of PHP.

JSON

View Services_JSON

4. Smarty

Smarty is a template engine which was formally a sub-project of the PHP project. Smarty provides many powerful features such as loops, variables, and a great caching system. The library has many years under its belt and is nearing its version three release.

Smarty

Download Smarty | View Documentation

5. pChart

In addition to displaying text data in your application, it can also be useful to show data in a more visual format. This can be done with a slew of options like pie charts and bar graphs. pChart is a script that allows you to create charts and graphs from SQL queries or manually provided details. The script is baked by GD to create the images. There is also a main focus on the aesthetics; so it creates some beautiful work.

pChart

Download pChart | View Documentation | View Demos

6. SimplePie

SimplePie is another article that been covered on NETTUTS a few times.

SimplePie allows you to easily pull in syndicated content (like RSS feeds). It's also been integrated with a lot of different platforms and language sets; it should be able to deal almost any feed in a variety of ways.

SimplePie

Download SimplePie | View Documentation | Extending SimplePie to Parse Unique RSS Feeds

7. XML-RPC PHP Library

Applications sometimes use functionality to "ping" other sites when an action has occurred (known as trackbacks). This is done by using a protocol called XML-RPC. The XML-RPC PHP library also allows you to integrate the functionality into your website.

XML-RPC

Download XML-RPC PHP | View Documentation

8. Amazon S3

Amazon provides a nice service to work in the cloud, called "S3". Nettuts+ even uses it to store the images seen in each article. There is a nice Amazon S3 library that doesn't require any third party tools and allows for large file uploads.

Amazon S3

Download Amazon S3 PHP Class

9. PHPMailer

Most applications send out an email in some form, but usually rely on the basic php mail() function. PHPMailer is an existing powerful class that allows you to send different types of emails - from basic text to rich formatted emails. These emails can also include attachments or custom headers.

Sending Mail

Download PHPMailer | View Documentation

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